Monday, July 23, 2012

Pomegranate Quad Tasting

Pomegranate Quad in the Hill Farmstead glass I got at their 2nd Anniversary party.
To refresh your memory, I brewed this Pomegranate-Cardamom Quad six months ago with my neighbor Dan. About two months later all but a six-pack of the 10 gallon batch was consumed at an Easter vigil celebration. Bottling some of the beer from one of the kegs using a Beer Gun was suboptimal compared to either bottle conditioning or drinking on tap, but I didn’t have another option to give my share the age it deserved. We added twice as much pomegranate molasses to half of the batch (10 ounces in five gallons), and that is the one I decided to take my share from.

Modern Times bought me the Beer Gun to facilitate shipping samples of test batches (I dropped off a box of Coffee Stout and Dank IPA earlier tonight). It is relatively simple to operate. A button floods the bottle with carbon-dioxide from the tank, and the trigger fills the bottle with beer. Beer is not dispensed into a pressurized bottle, like a counter-pressure system, but the long narrow beer-line minimizes foaming (as do cold, wet bottles). After more than four months in the bottle I’m thinking of this tasting as a gauge to measure how much oxygen the system allows into the beer.

Easter Spiced Pomegranate Quad

Appearance – At cellar temperature the beer gushes a bit, surprising given that this was force-carbonated in a keg and bottled with my Beer Gun. Although not so surprising because it was fermented relatively cool and kegged sooner than I normally would have (in light of our Easter deadline). The airy head sinks relatively quickly into the deep-garnet body.

Smell – The nose is a complex combination of dark red fruits (I wouldn’t say pomegranate if I didn’t know it was in there). The spice comes in at a level where it is hard to tell what is yeast-derived and what is from the cardamom. Some malt toastiness, and slight alcohol heat. As it warms I get a subtle clay-like aromatic, odd but not off-putting.

Taste – Dry, fruity, yeasty, and potent. The pomegranate adds a subtle tartness that helps to balance a big beer that lacks much (if any) hop bitterness. Dried cherry, and plums, not as dark (raisin/fig) as many quads. The alcohol isn’t hot, but it warms the finish.No sign of Brett or anything like that, so I assume the excess carbonation was a result of the primary yeast.

Mouthfeel – Firm carbonation, but not as much as I expected given the way it poured. Medium-light body, nice to have a beer that is dry but not thin.

Drinkability & Notes – For a big beer this is an easy drinker. The balance, especially the tartness, helps to make it easy to drink. I like it as is, but some dark candi syrup would give it some of the flavors it is missing from a style-standpoint.This would be a great candidate for aging in a port barrel...


Ben Quinn said...

So overall would you say you were happy with the results of the Beer gun?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Yeah, certainly from a usage standpoint. Jacob would be the better judge of the flavor since he is drinking more beers bottled with it. He has told me that even the hoppy beers have held up pretty well even over a month or more.

Anonymous said...

I'd be very interested in knowing how the taste fared as well. I much prefer kegging to bottling, but it's made it a real challenge to send in contest entries. The last two I did did not fare anywhere near as well as previous ones and I suspect it was due to oxidation from bottling from the keg.

Jacob McKean said...

The beers are tasting very good, even after a month or more in bottles. I suspect that the pre-evac of the bottles with CO2 plays a big role. For all the talk of yeast foraging oxygen in bottle conditioned beer, I'd bet the CO2 blanket plays a bigger role. Dialing in the carbonation seems to be the trickier part, but with a little practice, it doesn't seem to be an issue.

Chris said...

I wouldn't mind hearing a bit more about your beer gun technique. I only got a chance to mess with one for a minute before my keg kicked, but I ended up with bottles that were ~75-80% full, although they held up well enough (undercarbed, presumably from headspace).

Also thanks for mentioning a clay aromatic - I've experienced that before but didn't have a good name for it yet. I'd been saying something like chalky/pasty but those aren't the right descriptors.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Did the beer foam as you filled the bottles, and that's why they were under-filled?

I dial down the head-pressure on the keg and vent to around 3 SPI before I start filling to slow things down. I get the bottles cold and wet (if I'm lazy I just use ice water with Star-San) to reduce foaming. I start filling with the tip of the Beer Gun at the bottom of the bottle, and the bottle tilted to the side. I let the 1/2 inch or so of foam overflow before removing the Beer Gun. I give a last blast of CO2 in the bottle's head-space before immediately capping. Then I move to the next bottle.

Chris said...

Foam wasn't really an issue; it was actually a long while ago so I can't recall exactly.

I'll make sure it's all good and cold/wet next time, and also that my keg isn't going to kick on the 3rd or 4th bottle.

Anonymous said...

I brewed your beer with a few slight modifications. It's turning out GREAT. Just kegged 3 days ago, and it's exactly as you describe above. OG 1.090, FG 1.020. That means it's 9.2%! I can feel it after a few sips. The pom we used was all natural. Picked from my hometown on a Holiday visit, squeezed, reduced to molasses and added a week before kegging. I'm an extract brewer, so subbed w/ 12 lbs of pale malt. I harvested the yeast from a Chimay blue.

Full Notes Below!:
Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 5.00
Total Grain (Lbs): 20
Anticipated OG: 1.082
Actual OG: 1.09
Anticipated SRM: 22.7
Anticipated IBU: 24.2
Brewhouse Efficiency : 55 %
Wort Boil Time: 60 Minutes

OG 1.090
FG 1.020. 9.19%

83.8% 12.175 lbs. American Pale LME (OakBarrel)
5.1 % 2.00 lbs. Beet Sugar (make my own w/ citric acid and sugar)
5.1 % 1.00 lbs. CaraMunich Malt (OakBarrel)
5.1 % 1.00 lbs. Pomegranate Molasses (make my own)
1.0% 0.2 lbs. Carafa Special II - ORDERED (w/ Muslin Bags from RB)

1.2 oz. Hallertauer Tradition (Pellet, 4.5% AA) @ 50 min. (OakBarrel)

1.00 Unit(s) Irish Moss @ 10 min.
0.5 / 1 teaspoon Cardamom Seed @ 0 min.

Wyeast Belgian Abbey II yeast / Mixed with early Chimay Harvest
1 L starter - pitched after 3 days

12/6/2013 Made a 200ml starter with bottle harvest from 750ml blue Chimay. Starter did not appear to start. replaced wort and

added bottle harvest from two Raison D'etre earlier batch on 12/8/2013. Starter Showed activity 12/9 - slowed 12/10,

afternoon. Crash cooled starter in freezer briefly, then fridge day of brew.

Brewed 12/10/13 - 160 deg F grain steep for caramunich and carafa in muslin bag - 30 min
2 lbs light amber candi sugar added @ 60
Hallertauer added @ 45
1 tsp ground white cardamom added immediately after boil
Chilled to 65 F. Added to ferm. bucket. Topped off w/ two gallons water. Vigorous mix and strain for oxygen. Pitched decanted

starter. Left at 67F for ferment. Gravity - 1.09.

12/15/2013 - gravity reading - 1.028. Plan to move to secondary after xmas and add pom.

12/26/2013 - gravity reading - 1.022. racked to secondary and added pom.

12/28/2013 - fermentation active, pom appears to be feeding yeasties.

1/8/2014 - kegged and set at 30 psi. gravity reading - 1.020. 9.19%